Dodgers to assemble troop care packages in celebration of Veterans Day

LOS ANGELES -- This Thursday, in honor of Veterans Day, the Dodgers will visit Operation Gratitude to assemble care packages for the organization's Battalion Buddies program, which sends boxes to children on the day their parents are deployed. Dodger alumni Billy Ashley, Jimmy Campanis, Bobby Castillo, Al Ferrara, "Sweet" Lou Johnson and Wes Parker will visit Operation Gratitude at 17300 Victory Blvd. in Van Nuys from 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. on Thursday.

The Dodgers will also contribute letters to deployed soldiers signed by General Manager Ned Colletti, former Dodger and Special Advisor to the Chairman Don Newcombe and numerous Dodger employees. In addition, the team donated promotional items to Operation Gratitude to use in its holiday efforts.

Starting tomorrow and through the month of November, fans can visit www.dodgers.com/military to send Dodger photo postcards and messages to veterans and military members in their lives.

The Dodgers honor military members at every home game with their Veteran of the Game program, which treats the veteran and his or her family to Field level tickets and a visit to the field to watch batting practice and be recognized during pregame ceremonies. Honorees last season ranged from an Air Force cadet at UCLA to a Pearl Harbor survivor. Active duty and retired armed forces personnel, including their Reserve and National Guard components as well as military spouses and dependents, can also purchase discounted military tickets for all home games.

The team hosts designated themed nights for joint service branches at home games every year. Highlights of the Dodgers' 2011 military programming included Admiral Jonathan Greenert throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on Navy Night as part of L.A. Navy Week, Army Lieutenant Colonel Robert Blankenship throwing out a ceremonial first pitch on Army Night, military participating in the Dodgers' Opening Day flag ceremony and several SoldierCare veterans enjoying a game as guests of Colletti, meeting players on the field and throwing out a ceremonial first pitch at the July 30 game.

In July, the Dodgers and former Dodger Kenny Landreaux surprised an Afghanistan veteran at his home with the honor of being the Veteran of the Game at Dodger Stadium on the Fourth of July. Also at that game, Operation Gratitude threw out a ceremonial first pitch and 125 veterans from the Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and their families were introduced on the field during pregame ceremonies.

In 2011, the Dodgers donated approximately 17,000 tickets to military and veterans' organizations, including free tickets for all military members during the month of May, and helped organizations including the Veterans Ticket Foundation, Coast Guard, Edwards Air Force Base, IAVA, the Marine Corps and the Navy League.

Details about the Dodgers' discounted military tickets, the Veteran of the Game program and information about upcoming armed forces promotions can be found at www.dodgers.com/military.

About Operation Gratitude:
Operation Gratitude annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, toiletries, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to Wounded individually named U.S. Service Members deployed in harm's way, to their Children left behind, and to Warriors recovering in transition units. Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to our Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Operation Gratitude receives the names of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines from commanders in the field who see the positive impact of care packages on their troops' morale. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. For safety and security, assembling of packages occurs at the Army National Guard armory in Van Nuys, California. Since its inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude has shipped more than 700,000 packages to American Military deployed overseas.